Advertising

7 Creative Tricks to Save Your Time and Boost Work Productivity

Advertising
7 Creative Tricks to Save Your Time and Boost Work Productivity

This is one of the never ending subjects all busy people think about on a daily basis. There are various methods people use to boost their work productivity and many theories as to how one should approach this issue. We always want to achieve more and use the most of our each day.

In spite of all of the information you can find online on this topic, I feel like most of the advice really misses the point. It’s not about having thousands of solutions such as gadgets or habits up your sleeve. Having so many things to think about and organize is really only taking away your time and not helping you make the most out of it.

A lot of people end up being disrupted by their gadgets, apps, and habits because they miss the point. The point is not to adopt as many tricks as you can, but instead to use them properly. If you approach things the right way, they can work in your favor. If not, you will not achieve any results, and you will feel even more stressed than before.

1. Create a list of things you absolutely must do.

Create a short list, either on some phone app or on a piece of paper. This list should include the things that are essential to be done during that day and you should consider it sacred. You should use it as a reminder so that you don’t lose focus of what’s important. Create a couple of columns that shortly outline what must be done, or if you have to, add short specifics that concern that task.

Advertising

It should not be more complicated than that. This is your code, and you must stick to it at all times. Never allow something else to get in your way of achieving the goals you’ve set for a certain day. This brings us to the next trick.

2. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked in.

Saying to yourself “I must stay on schedule” is easy, but it’s often a hard thing to achieve, especially if you have an important position and everyone wants a piece of you. I can’t even count the number of days I woke up in the morning thinking that I won’t let anyone disrupt my plans during the day, and realizing after work that what happened was the complete opposite.

3. Use tools and apps.

You have probably created lists or flash cards with your responsibilities at some point, to see if that will motivate you to be more productive. To be honest it can work to some extent, but just like anything else, it can become tedious after some time.

A more interesting way of keeping track and increasing productivity is by using apps and tools. For example, at my workplace, we try different management tools just to keep things neatly organized and more entertaining. We use things like Toggl to collaborate on group projects, to have a smooth workflow and task distribution and to keep track of time. When you complete a project and know just how long it took you to complete it, you treat that time as a high score. Afterwards, you work harder in order to beat the record.

Advertising

We have also used Basecamp and Trello, since these apps can also work for group projects. However, it does not mean that you cannot use these tools outside the workplace as well. You can create lists of responsibilities and reminders can pop up on your computer or smartphone. You can even use it as a family, to distribute chores amongst each other. Give it a try; it really works.

4. Create hourly challenges.

This thing does not have an official name, although some people love to say – “get in the zone” but I just call it an hourly challenge. Basically, you challenge yourself to be fully focused and devoted to work for a whole hour. You set an alarm to go off, and once you start, you are not allowed to do anything outside of the task at hand.

Whenever we work, we tend to doze off and we just allow our train of thought to navigate our thinking, but if you are one hundred percent focused on your task for a whole hour, you will see just how much you can accomplish.

It’s important that you take a short break afterwards, before you get into another hourly challenge, because avoiding this can be really mentally exhausting.

Advertising

5. Take small breaks.

One thing that can seriously harm your productivity is work overload. You take on additional tasks and go all out on one day, and then you have a hard time mustering enough willpower to continue to work on the following day or for a whole week. It’s important that you do not overburden yourself, and that you take on moderate portions of your workload.

If you combine the hourly challenge with enough small breaks, you can get everything done really fast. Plus, you’ll have the rest of your day to recharge, and you won’t have an impression that you are exhausted, which will allow you to continuously work at the same level of productivity. With small breaks, you won’t get more work done, but you will manage to maintain the same level of healthy productivity, which is rather important.

6. Segment more copious tasks.

If there is one thing that will discourage you, it’s massive projects. When you know that you are going to work for a whole day, but you still won’t be able to complete the entire task, you will only end up feeling bad. So, when this happens, you need to segment the tasks into smaller parts, and view those smaller parts as daily tasks. It will make it easier for you to track your progress, and have a better sense of achievement after each day.

7. Group work.

Lastly, if you are having a hard time focusing, maybe you should try working in groups, provided that these groups consist of people who are eager to get the job done. When you are working in a group, you get that inner pressure of not wanting to hinder anyone, so you stay focused. You do not want to come off as irresponsible, so you force yourself to pay attention and be involved.

Advertising

To sum up, people very often face this problem, and it’s perfectly natural to lose enthusiasm. So, in order to solve these problems you need to innovate and try different tactics, you can also switch your tasks and do something a bit different, so that you are not doing the same things each day. It will also be useful to give group work a try or to try to come up with challenges to motivate yourself.

Feel free to use apps and to organize your tasks a bit differently to add more dynamics to your schedule, and you’ll be fine. Additionally, do not hesitate to fully utilize your holidays, and take a good rest, and make a good use of your free days, because if you want to stay productive on a long run you need to be fully rested.

Featured photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/StartupStockPhotos-690514/ via pixabay.com

More by this author

Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

How To Workout Without a Gym And Get a Killer Gym Body 10 Things To Remember If You Love A Sociopath The Smart Ways to Save Money Fast (Even If You’re a Big Spender) 5 Secrets to Being Confident and Earning People’s Respect 10 Sustainable Health And Fitness Habits Everyone Can Adopt

Trending in Productivity

1 Are You Addicted to Productivity? 2 Is Avoiding Difficult Tasks And Doing Easy Tasks First Less Productive? 3 How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data) 4 10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021 5 13 Steps to Build a Positive Habit Stacking Routine

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

Advertising
Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

Advertising

“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

Advertising

Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

Advertising

4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

Advertising

  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

Read Next